January 6th, 2009 at 8:21am
Car sales were dismal in December, but guess which part of the market suffered the most? While the overall market fell to 35%, sales of hybrids were down nearly 43%. Contrast that to only six months ago when hybrids were so hot you practically couldn’t buy one.
Especially hard hit were the most popular hybrids out there. The Toyota Prius was down nearly 45%, the Honda Civic hybrid was down 67%.
Two factors are to blame for this. First, with gasoline prices half of what they were last summer consumers are not as worried about fuel economy. Second, with the economy in a full-blown recession consumers are looking for cheaper alternatives to pricey hybrids.
None of this bodes well for automakers who are about to cram their showrooms chock full of hybrids in the next couple of years. That is, not as long as gasoline prices stay as cheap as they are.